Fatigue Week

This morning’s training session was a good one, I think. Even though my coach is wanting to incur fatigue this week, I felt pretty good throughout my session. The only instances where I didn’t feel so fine were my final deadlift set and during the glute bridges. The back felt achy and uncomfortable during that final deadlift set, and it also felt uncomfortable the moment I settled the weight across my abdomen for the glute bridges. Still, the back is feeling better every session, every week, so I just hope to continue to increase my weights without further set-backs.

1. deficit deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 95 lbs x 8, 135 x 4, 165 x 4, 195 x 2

main event: 205 x 5, 205 x 5, 205 x 4, 205 x 2

As I mentioned already, the back felt fine until the final set here, which is why I only managed 2 reps. Although I most likely could have pushed through to complete another rep or two, I do not want to inflict further harm. Know your limit, play within it!

2. incline bench press (3-1×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10

main event: 60 lbs x 12, 60 x 10, 60 x 8

My incline bench is definitely weaker than my regular bench. My shoulders were burning with fatigue by the third set.

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

110 lbs x 15, 110 x 10

4a. side plank

x 30 seconds, x 22 seconds, x 25 seconds

4b. barbell rows

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 12, 70 x 12

4c. glute bridge

40 lbs x 15, 40 x 15, 40 x 15

Out the Door

Going to the gym and training by myself has presented me with a new obstacle to overcome. As I was driving to the gym this morning I realized that this “drag myself out the door” mentality was exactly the same thing I experienced back in my running days. Even though I looked forward to running and enjoyed the run itself, most days I would find myself struggling to get out the door; however, the moment I put on my shoes and shut the door behind me, my attitude flipped like a light switch and I was happy to be running. This is what I am currently experiencing whenever I need to go to the gym. I want to train. I am committed to training and won’t skip a session, but getting out of the house is a reluctant process. I’d like to think this will change in time as I grow more comfortable in my new gym surroundings and get to know the people there. And even if it doesn’t change, at least I know that I am focused, determined, and committed to doing what I need to do to reach my goals.

1. deficit deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 5, 165 x 4

main event: 195 x 5, 195 x 5, 195 x 5

Oh boy! So, I put my belt on beginning with my second warm up set. I generally wait longer to use my belt, but since the back has been achy for the past week I figured I’d play it safe. I was in the midst of my second working set, when I suddenly realized why the deadlifts were feeling so easy today…I had forgotten all about the deficit and was doing regular deadlifts! Oops! I considered sticking with the conventional for the final set but ultimately chose to grab a plate and get at least one set of deficits in. Definitely a difference with the deficit! Yet, I think they still felt better than they did last week, and the back was less irritated during the sets.

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 15, 55 x 12, 55 x 10

These also felt better than last week!

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

105 lbs x 15, 105 x 8

Unlike last week, there was chalk in the box at the gym today, which meant I was able to maintain a solid grip for all of my deadlift reps. A solid grip helps make the reps feel easier…at least a little bit.

4a. side plank

x 30 seconds each, x 30, x 15

4b. barbell row

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12, 65 x 10

4c. glute bridge

30 lbs x 15, 30 x 15, 30 x 15

 

Familiarizing

Day 2 of the new program took place this morning. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t amazing. I am still familiarizing myself with the new gym, where the various pieces of equipment are located, and the quirks of worn flooring, loud grunting, and the details of my program. Becoming familiar and comfortable in my new gym will take some time, but I know it will eventually happen. The quirks of the building and equipment aren’t likely to change anytime soon, but I will at least grow accustomed to them or figure out ways to work around them.

1. deficit deadlifts

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 6, 165 x 4, 195 x 2

main event: 195 x 4, 195 x 3, 195 x 3

My working sets were programmed for 220 pounds, but my warm up at 195 felt tough and uncomfortable on my lower back. I put my belt on and opted to stay at the same weight for the working sets. The target was 4-6 reps. The ache in the back continued and remains even now…nothing too severe but I’d rather be cautious than risk further back troubles. I’ve had quite enough of that already this year.

2. incline bench press

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 10, 55 x 8, 55 x 8

I am definitely weaker benching on an incline, and I am definitely not a fan of my gym’s incline bench set up.

3. stiff leg deadlifts

95 lbs x 12, 95 x 12

Grip was definitely an issue with these. I did locate the chalk box at the gym, but it was empty. Also, that ache in the lower back was an issue doing these.

4a. side plank

x 33 seconds each side, x 25 each, x 25 each

4b. barbell row

60 lbs x 10, 60 x 12, 60 x 12

The weights for some of these accessory exercises were left blank for me to fill in. The leeway is welcome, but it also makes me feel a measure of uncertainty. I’m probably playing it safe and easy, at least for now.

4c. glute bridge

25 lbs x 15, 25 x 15, 25 x 15

Solid Footing

My foot feels so much better than it did Wednesday, even though it still doesn’t feel quite right. There were times at work today when I did walk with a slight limp and the foot ached, but it is getting better. On Wednesday, I thought I wouldn’t be able to squat or deadlift for quite some time, but I headed to the gym today thinking that I should be able to do both. But an injury tends to make one feel doubt to some degree. Before leaving the house to go to the gym, I made sure to do my foot homework, rolling the outer edge of the bottom of my foot and then massaging the trouble spot. The rolling isn’t exactly super comfortable, yet my foot feels so much better for a while after.

1a. front squats-with squat shoes!

45 lbs x 8, 75 x 6, 105 x 6, 135 x 4, 140 x 4, 140 x 4

I didn’t feel anything in my foot during the squats! 🙂 But the back of the right knee took a few sets to warm up enough to not hurt at the bottom. As warm-up, I did a few overhead squats with a dowel, and that was when the knee hurt the most.

1b. flat dumbbell presses-nearly neutral grip

20 lbs x 10, 29 x 10, 39 x 8, 39 x 8, 39 x 8, 39 x 8

I am not afraid of the dumbbells anymore, at least as long as I am on my back. Overhead pressing with a dumbbell isn’t nearly as strong for me.

2a. deadlifts-deficit

115 lbs x 7, 165 x 5

with straps: 195 x 6, 205 x 8

We weren’t sure but thought the 165 pound set might have been a record for me using a double overhand grip; however, I did the same number of reps at the same weight without straps a couple of weeks ago. Still, this is usually the point where I need straps in order to pull the reps. A single isn’t an issue, but it is difficult to do reps when the grip is struggling. While today wasn’t exactly a first, I think today’s set was better than the one two weeks ago.

2b. kettlebell triceps extensions

12kg x 10, x 10, x 9

10kg x 11

3a. block pulls-with belt and straps

205 lbs x 8, 225 x 5

Block pulls are a funny beast. I kind of like them, but they are challenging as they begin right at my sticking point.

3b. toes to bar

x 6 + 6 knee raises with leg extensions

x 4 + 9 straight leg raises

The foot held up just fine. Thank goodness!

Slingshot, Deadlifts & Kettlebells

It’s been an interesting and long week with one more day yet to go. Headaches have featured rather prominently in the week with there being more headache than non-headache time. A migraine started the week, but the headaches since Wednesday have been different. I think I can safely blame those on my neck and upper back/trap. While I don’t know why I wound up with pain and tightness in those areas, I am confident that the recent headaches stemmed from that tension. I tried foam rolling my upper back. I even used a lacrosse ball to get into that spot, but it didn’t quite ease the headache. However, I did have an appointment with my chiropractor yesterday afternoon, so he worked his magic. The muscles he worked on my neck are a little tender today, but I was without a headache until about noon today. Hopefully it will dissipate soon.

1. overhead squats

35 lbs x 6 with a 2 second pause for the last two reps

45 lbs x 5 with 2 second pause each rep

65 lbs x 5 with 2 second pause each rep

I don’t do a lot of overhead squatting, and I don’t believe I have ever done them with weight added to the bar(s). The hardest part of the final set was getting the bar overhead, especially with the wider grip that I was using. Michael had me push press it up and he was right there to make sure I got the bar up okay.

2a. deadlifts, deficit, keeping the tension and pausing just off the floor

95 lbs x 8, 135 x 8, 165 x 8

now pausing just below the knees:

deficit 185 x 5

not deficit 185 x 6, 185 x 6

The deadlifts felt tough today. I even said that the 308 pounds that I pulled at Westerns felt much easier than pulling 185 pounds today! Of course, the pause likely made things feel heavier, but deadlifts are just one of those things that doesn’t always feel good in the gym We were going to do sumo, but a little warm-up set with a kettlebell revealed that the left glute still feels out of sorts in that position.

2b. single arm landmine presses

just the bar x 10 each, +10 lbs x 10 each, +20 lbs x 5 each, +15 pounds x 8 each

2c. kettlebell windmills

10kg x 8 each, 12kg x 8 each, 16kg x 6 each, 16kg x 8 each

3. push-ups

7 real push-ups + 8 with the slingshot

x 8 with the slingshot + 15 pounds on my back

These push-ups were yet another situation where I was slightly skeptical and might have raised an eyebrow when Michael said to trust him. My chest is stiff and sore from Wednesday’s dips and I had just done the landmine presses, but I did better with the push-ups than I thought I would.

Deficits & Inclines

Most of yesterday was grey and rainy, and I was perfectly content with the weather as it was a perfect match for how I was feeling. I had thought that I might go for a walk after work yesterday, but I couldn’t do it. While my work day was fine, as I sat in the office doing paperwork for the last hour of my shift, a heaviness settled on my shoulders and tears stung my eyes. A walk probably would have done me good, but my emotions were quite volatile for most of the afternoon. Staying in the house, writing in my paper journal and crying in the bathroom and my bedroom just seemed like a better idea. I woke up to sunshine this morning. As much as I truly do love the rain, I was glad to see sunshine and blue skies. When I opened the living room curtains, I saw a hot-air balloon high in the sky. I might prefer my feet on the ground, but there is something peaceful and amazing about hot-air balloons. Today is a better day.

1a. sumo block pulls, standing on a 1/2″ mat

95 x 6

with a 3 finger grip: 135 x 6, 165 x 2 + 4 with a full grip

with straps: 185 x 7, 205 x 8, 215 x 7

with straps & belt: 235 x 5, 225 x 8

I made a comment to Michael at one point about block pulls being fun. Maybe fun isn’t the best word. I like them. Yes, they can be tough, but I’d rather do block pulls than rear laterals or deficit deadlifts or Bulgarians. The 3 finger grip was not so fun or enjoyable though. Standing on the mat didn’t even really register in my brain, but we’ll gradually add to it.

1b. incline bench press, with my old competition grip

43 x 8, 63 x 8, 73 x 6, 73 x 6, 73 x 6, 68 x 7

For either the second or third last sets, we moved my grip just slightly wider and also adjusted the seat on the bench. I know we dropped the weight for the final set, so it should have felt somewhat easier, however, the final set felt stronger than the previous sets.

2a. single arm, bottoms up kettlebell presses

8kg x 8 each, 10kg x 2 each

forget the bottoms up! regular kb presses

12kg x 3 left, 4 right

forget the kettlebells! dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 7 each  although the left arm definitely struggled to get 7 reps

2b. deficit deadlifts, with straps

185 x 6, 195 x 5

I was a little reluctant to begin the first set of these, because I remembered how tough they felt last week. Feet on the plate, setting up for the first rep, I felt like a giant squatting down to lift something so incredibly far away. The first set last week was the worst. My legs were quivering stumps. I was pleasantly surprised by how much better this first set felt today! They were still tough, but my legs didn’t protest nearly as much.

Sweat Session

My coach wasn’t kidding when he said that he’d be working me hard for the next little while. I felt it today. All of it. Every rep. I was training all by myself this afternoon, so I cranked my music and got to work.

1a. block pulls, sumo, with straps

95 x 8, 135 x 8, 165 x 8

with belt: 185 x 8, 205 x 8, 205 x 8, 205 x 7, 205 x 7

The left knee had a couple of twinges during the second set at 205, while the left low back had a couple of twinges during the final two sets. With the exception of the various body twinges, the block pulls didn’t feel too bad.

1b. incline dumbbell presses, neutral grip

15 lbs x 10, 20 x 8, 25 x 8, 29 x 8, 29 x 8, 29 x 8, 29 x 8

I might have been able to go a little heavier for my working sets, but I wanted to play it safe since I didn’t have anyone there to spot me.

2a. deficit deadlifts, with belt and straps

185 x 4, 185 x 5, 185 x 4, 185 x 6

No joke…these were tough! My rep range was supposed to be 4-6, but I couldn’t hit the top of the range until the last set. However, I think the last set was the best. The first rep might have got a little away from my legs, but the rest of the reps skimmed up and down my legs. I’m not sure if the block pulls or the deficits were to blame, but I’ve got at least one new bruise on a knee.

2b. chin ups, small green band

x 5, x 5, x 3.5, x 3.75

The rep range here was supposed to be 5-8. Obviously I fell short on the final two sets, and I’m sure Michael would tease me about counting my partial reps.

3a. front squats

95 x 6, 115 x 6, 115 x 6, 115 x 6

By this point in my session my legs were feeling quite shaky, and I had to convince myself that I was capable of completing the required reps each set. Actually, I had to first convince myself that I could even begin each set, especially the final one.

3b. GHD sit-ups

x 15,  15, x 15, x 10

I don’t know that I have ever been so glad to have finished a training session! It was a lot of work, but I got it all done. I am so wiped out that I think I might finally get a good night’s sleep…if I can hurry up and get myself into bed. It’s already past my bedtime, and I’m back to work early tomorrow morning. That’s going to be tough after ten days off, mostly late nights and more reasonable waking times.